2020 Independent Party of Oregon Nomination Process: Part 1

This series of posts will explain my thought process and perhaps add some insights into how the Independent Party of Oregon has determined it’s nominations for the 2020 election. – Rob Harris, Co-Chair Independent Party of Oregon

Member input. Party nominations are made by the nominating Caucus who are elected by Party members.

In order to establish that Caucus, the State Council, which is the elected governing body of the Party, named a slate of qualified Party members to be put to our members for a vote. The qualifications for membership on the caucus are set out in the Party governing documents.

For the 2020 nominations, the Council approved up to 15 members for the Caucus. The Party held an online vote of members who are on our email list, advertised in at least two newspapers and posted the notice online so that all party members had an opportunity to participate in the Caucus member election.

After the member election, the Caucus still had empty positions so The State Council filled two seats with qualified Party members. One being an elected County Commissioner. As of today there is another pending caucus applicant who is a City Councilor and may be added.

The State Council established the following process for the nomination.

First a candidate needed to submit a screening application that included 5 open ended questions about their thoughts on the IPO and its policies and a set of 6 Yes or No questions.

Next, the State Council reviewed all initial applications for completeness and timeliness and other technical matters, and decided which candidates would be approved to move on to be considered by the Caucus. It is important to know that prior to any applications being accepted the State Council had agreed among themselves that it would like to focus on select races. Mainly competitive districts and those races where there was a significant reason to be active. For instance if a candidate was very supportive of our Party and had worked with us on issues in the past.

Part of the reason why the Council wanted to focus on select races was simply the limited volunteer time we have available. Without a large donor base we rely on volunteer time and spreading those efforts too thin we believed would do a disservice to candidates. And in races that were not competitive, the IPO nomination would not change an outcome in any event.

To our surprise, we received over 90 applications from candidates. In almost every race a major party candidate applied, and in most races both major party candidates applied.

This made our initial screening decision much more difficult because we still wanted to narrow the number of races that we’d nominate in. In retrospect, if we had known how many candidates would apply for our nomination, the State Council may have identified the races it would nominate in before seeking applications. That would have been fair to the applicants. However given the ambivalence many in the Democratic and Republican Party have shown to our Party, we had no expectations of numbers of applicants.

So now we were faced with screening a lot more applications than we had anticipated. I can’t speak for my fellow State Council members, but here’s how I approached this task.

First, was the application made timely and was it complete. A handful of applications were not timely and a few didn’t answer all of the Yes No questions. One person lost their major party primary and wasn’t qualified to a participate under Oregon’s sore loser statute. Those candidates were automatically excluded.

Of those application that remained I can tell you that there was no single question on the screening Yes/No section that was for me an automatic disqualification. However if someone refused to answer Yes or No, that was more likely to make me lean towards disqualification because these were Yes or No answers and explanations were allowed. And we continued to remind each other as we vetted candidates, we are just pre-sreening, the nominating caucus would eventually make the actual nomination based on the quality of the answers and the candidates.

In almost every case, the reason a candidate wasn’t moved on to the nominating caucus for consideration of nomination was because the State Council decided to limit the races we’d ask the Caucus to consider in order to make good use of our limited resources.

I appreciated each and every application and understand the time it took to complete them. There were some very good and thoughtful answers and we didn’t approve many candidates that I’d have no trouble voting for if they were on my November ballot. I sincerely thank every candidate for their service. Running for office is not easy and we have no desire to make it any more difficult or anxiety ridden than it already is.

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